As Yellow Vest Protests in France Continue, Support Drops

For 13 consecutive weekends, Paris has witnessed demonstrations by the Yellow Vest (Gilet Jaune) protestors which have often broken out into violence.

Yellow vest demonstrators marching on the Champs Elysees in Paris, on November 24, 2018. /AFP

For 3 months, hundreds of anti-government protestors have marched through the French capital leading to violent clashes between demonstrators and riot police, arrests, vandalism, and recently a conviction.

French boxer Christophe Dettinger, a retired national light-heavyweight champion, was sentenced to one year in jail for punching an officer during a protest on January 5. The attack was caught on camera. Dettinger maintains he was defending a woman he believed was a victim of police violence.

What initially began as a protest against high diesel prices and high cost of living has become a demonstration against inequality and anger towards French President Emmanuel Macron.

However, recent polls show that French residents do not believe the current group of protestors represents the initial demonstrations, as both extreme left-wing and extreme right-wing members and anarchists have joined the Yellow Vest movement and been blamed for turning to looting and rioting during marches.

Protesters wearing yellow vests at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, January 12, 2019. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

A survey conducted by polling company Elabe indicated that 56 percent of French citizens think the weekly protests should end. This is up 11 points from early January and is also the first time a majority of citizens have shown opposition to the demonstrations.

While support is waning for the yellow vest activists, the movement still hopes to achieve a seat in government though they are not politically unified and lack an appointed leader.